On a day when Olympic officials scolded the American team for being too American - stepping a little out of line at the opening ceremonies - Greg Louganis showed another side of the national spirit.
In a magnificent display of artistry and courage, Louganis overcame pain, self-doubt and a sleepless night to stamp the Games with one of its most stirring performances when he captured the springboard diving gold medal.He didn't quit and he got the job done, just as the U.S. boxing team came back with a victory Tuesday after stinging defeats inside the ring and out, and as the men's basketball team did against a surprisingly tough Canadian squad.
Louganis highlighted a fourth day of competition that saw world records fall and the mighty Soviet sports machine rise up to take the lead in overall medals with 11, including six gold.
Bulgarian-born defector Naim Suleymanoglu, the 135-pound "Pocket Hercules" competing for Turkey, set three world records in weightlifting. He snatched 152.5 kilograms (3351/2 pounds), then lifted 190 kilograms (418 pounds) in the clean-and-jerk. That gave him the record for the combined lift with 342.5 kilograms (7531/2 pounds).
Soviet Alexandre Kiritchenk won the 1,000-meter cycling gold the hard way - on a flat tire. The gold was one of four the Soviets won Tuesday, along with a bronze.
Among the most prized of the Soviets' gold was the men's team gymanastics. East Germany took the silver and Japan the bronze.
The United States, 11th in gymnastics, gained only Louganis' gold to end the day with five medals: two gold, one silver and two bronze.
Eleven times Louganis knifed smoothly into the water, twisting and flipping in midair, each time slicing away the memory of the sickening thud when his head struck the board in the preliminary round Monday.
His head pounded and his pride was hurt after hitting the board. Five stitches closed the wound, ice soothed the pain, but his confidence and concentration were shattered when they were most needed.
"I couldn't be down psychologically or physically," said Louganis, 28, of Boca Raton, Fla.
And yet he was, with little time to recover before a pressure-filled final round for the first of the two golds he's seeking to match the pair he won in 1984 in the springboard and platform.
He lay awake most of the night, afraid, nervous, filled with doubt. In the morning, he took extra dives at practice and got a pep talk from his coach, Ron O'Brien.
When the finals began, Louganis closed his eyes before each dive, breathed deeply, slapped his face and thighs rapidly and talked to himself, psyching himself up.
It was a sweet victory for Louganis and a coveted second gold for a beleaguered U.S. team chastised by the International Olympic Committee for its "scandalous" behavior at Saturday's opening ceremonies.
In a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee, IOC administrator Raymond Gafner said the behavior of the more than 600 American athletes during the parade "has given to the whole world a very bad impression of your delegation."
USOC president Robert Helmick took issue with Gafner's description but acknowledged some team members may have gone too far by weaving off the track and waving boisterously during the parade.
American officials said their athletes were in a festive mood and didn't mean to offend by wearing Mickey Mouse ears or waving signs that saluted NBC or said "Hi Mom. Send Won," referring to the Korean currency. Nevertheless, they'll be warned to watch their step at closing ceremonies.
The athletes themselves couldn't believe the IOC's position.
"We are not a nation of marchers and soldiers," said Wylie Farrier, manager of the U.S. boxing team from Cleveland, Ohio.
Kenneth Gould showed plenty of spirit in taking a 4-1 decision over Joseph Marwa of Tanzania in a 147-pound bout.
Fighting a day after Anthony Hembrick, 165, was disqualified for arriving 10 minutes too late for his fight because of a coach's foul-up and a missed bus, Gould took no chances getting to the arena. He left at 8:30 a.m. for an afternoon bout.
Gould, 21, of Rockford, Ill., took no chances inside the ring, either, taking command in the third round to win easily.
The men's basketball team didn't have it easy, but it survived a near upset by Canada to win 76-70.
The U.S. made seven of 11 3-pointers - three by Hersey Hawkins and two each by Charles Smith IV and Dan Majerle - as it scrapped to its second victory after beating Spain by 44 points on Sunday.
Next up is Brazil, which beat the United States for the Pan Am Games gold medal last year and features Oscar Schmidt and Marcel Souza, two of the premier 3-point shooters in the world. Brazil beat China 130-108 earlier Tuesday.
China's defending gold medal women's volleyball team picked up where it left off in Los Angeles by rolling over the American team 3-0 in the first match of the women's eight-team tournament.
Americans kicked the Koreans around in their national sport, taekwondo, and won the men's and women's heavyweight divisions in the non-medal demonstration event.
Two-time world champion Lynnette Love, a 6-foot-3 whirling whiz from Oxon Hill, Md., celebrated her 31st birthday a day early with a victory over 5-foot Korean Jang Yoon-jung.